The dark and dated ’80s vibe of this Seagrove, Florida, townhouse didn’t deter Ili Hildago-Nilsson of Terracotta Design Build Co. from buying it. The award-winning Atlanta architect/designer is known for transforming older projects into something magnificent, after all, even a tiny space like this 1,200-square-foot beach condo. She and her team gutted it, made some structural repairs, then added much-needed updates: a wood floor and ceiling to warm up the tall space, wall trim, and a new kitchen and baths.
Color always plays a big role in her projects. Because Ili grew up in Puerto Rico, she’s fond of the saturated colors associated with Caribbean islands, and even named this vacation spot Palm Azul to set the tone. As a focal point of the home, rich green and blue backsplash tiles in a Moroccan pattern line the kitchen walls, contrasted with ebonized maple cabinets. “I just naturally gravitate to those colors, so I knew we wouldn’t use an expected seaside palette,” says Ili. Similarly, the designer is all about white for contrast. Ili’s biggest tip for brightening up a space: Paint all the walls a high-gloss white (she likes Sherwin-Williams’ “Reflective White”), because it bounces around light.
Furnishings were mostly picked up on a budget since the house serves as a rental when she and her daughter aren’t using it, but that adds an element of a treasure hunt to the process. “Buy things you like when you see them, and then figure out how to use them later,” Ili says. “So, if you go into Marshall’s to buy flip-flops and see a lamp in your general color palette, buy it and figure out how to use it later.”
The beach place was recently awarded an honor by ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) in the “best residence under 3,000 feet” category, showing that small spaces and small budgets can yield big results. We couldn’t agree more.
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